New Book by Kemi Adeyemi: Feels Right

Submitted by Whitney Miller on

On the heels of Queer Nightlife, the 2021 anthology Kemi Adeyemi co-edited with Kareem Khubchandani and Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, her new book exploring the politics of queer nightlife in Chicago is just out. 

In Feels Right: Black Queer Women and the Politics of Partying in Chicago, Kemi Adeyemi presents an ethnography of how black queer women in Chicago use dance to assert their physical and affective rights to the city. Adeyemi stages the book in queer dance parties in gentrifying neighborhoods, where good feelings are good business. But feeling good is elusive for black queer women whose nightlives are undercut by white people, heterosexuality, neoliberal capitalism, burnout, and other buzzkills. Adeyemi documents how black queer women respond to these conditions: how they destroy DJ booths, argue with one another, dance slowly, and stop partying altogether. Their practices complicate our expectations that life at night, on the queer dance floor, or among black queer community simply feels good.

Adeyemi’s framework of “feeling right” offers a closer, kinesthetic look at how black queer women adroitly manage feeling itself as a complex right they should be afforded in cities that violently structure their movements and energies. What emerges in Feels Right is a sensorial portrait of the critical, black queer geographies and collectivities that emerge in social dance settings and in the broader neoliberal city.

In an interview with Windy City Times, Adeyemi explains why she chose to focus on three specific parties hosted over the years of her research (2008-2016) in gentrifying Chicago neighborhoods: "They helped me stage a conversation about the relationships between nightlife, Black life, Black nightlife and the urban development in the neighborhoods in question."

Coming to a dance floor near you: Watch out in Spring 2023 for a Capitol Hill book launch and party with Kemi Adeyemi, friends, and interlocutors, exploring the politics of partying from Chicago to Seattle.